Longtime conservative columnist George F. Will spoke with an air of resignation Sunday as he asked whether it was "too late" to stop Donald Trump, in an interview with Fox News. “In war, every disaster can be explained by two words: too late," Will said, quoting an adage from Gen. Douglas MacArthur.
The conservative media's "war" on Trump advanced Thursday when National Review, a magazine where Will contributes, rolled out an extraordinary and unprecedented special issue titled "Against Trump" ahead of the Feb. 1 Iowa caucuses. As Will saw on Sunday, the latest Fox News poll in Iowa showed Trump up 11 points over the last two weeks, at 34 percent, while his main rival, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, was down 4 points, at 23 percent.
"The question is whether the conservative wing of the Republican Party, a.k.a. the Republican wing of the Republican Party, is beginning too late to rally against Mr. Trump," Will said.
National Review's coordinated attack, with contributions from Glenn Beck to the Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol to Commentary's John Podhoretz, began with an editorial laying out the kind of offensive Will referenced on Sunday. The problem with Trump, it said, was not racist remarks about Mexicans or Arabs, ejection of journalists from press conferences, or proposing to ban Muslims from entering the United States. Instead the complaint was more pragmatic: Trump will "trash the broad conservative ideological consensus within the GOP," and simply jerk the party in any direction he feels like, like a "philosophically unmoored political opportunist."
Much to Will's dismay, Republican voters polled in Iowa still don't appear to share National Review's assessment of Trump, conservatism or the Republican Party.